"adaptation" to non-natural dietary items impossible?

Laurie Xlaurie at the-beach.net
Thu Sep 7 15:58:56 EST 2000

[Moderator's Note: I will post this response and the following one to the
replies that Laurie received to her/his original posting, but I have some
concerns about the way this thread is headed. I would like to urge posters
to this newsgroup to maintain a civil tone in their discourse (especially
when they receive responses that they don't agree with). 

This thread was already on the margins of the topics for this newsgroup
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"Mary K. Kuhner" <mkkuhner at kingman.genetics.washington.edu> wrote in message
news:8p3e55$9s8$1 at mercury.hgmp.mrc.ac.uk...
> In article <8p3cc9$80i$1 at mercury.hgmp.mrc.ac.uk>,
> Warren Gallin  <wgallin at gpu.srv.ualberta.ca> wrote:
>>>     As an experimental/experiential dietary researcher, I frequently
>>> have conversations with people who make always-unsupported claims that
>>> although the human is a frugivorous ape, we "adapted" to animal flesh
>>> and cooked food in the relatively short time that such practices have
>>>been in vogue.
> >How sure are we that the human is a frugiverous ape?  If this statement
> >is not true then the rest of the discussion is not very relevant.
    Discussions of the human ability to "adapt" to non-natural dietary items
is very relevant, given the destructive effects of cooking and the fact that
it allows many non-natural items to be eaten that could not be raw, such as
flesh-eating in the human.
    IF humans were 'adapted' to flesh-eating, then they would uniformly
catch, kill, tear asunder, and eat their flesh RAW, using only their natural
equipment, just like all the true omni/carnivores; yet how many
culturally-conditioned flesh-eating humans do this??  I have yet to find one
in communicating with them on this specific issue for over 30 years, or
observing them for over 60 years.  Not one!
    Further, the effects of denaturing the proteins, the cross-linking of
molecules, and the numerous toxic pyrolytic and carcinogenic compounds
created by cooking are quite relevant to those who are selfishly interested
in their own health.
    For example, colorectal cancer is strongly and positively associated
with flesh consumption.  How can this be interpreted, other than no
'adaptation' had occurred?
    How, indeed, will we 'adapt' to the 10,000+ untested food additives and
the thousands of farm chemicals: pesticides, growth-hormones, antibiotics,
fungicides, herbicides, etc. in our food supply?  We have no ability to do
    Further, humans who abandon this culturally-conditioned flesh-eating
practice uniformly report an increased state of well-being and energy, which
obviously would not occur IF such 'adaptation' had occurred.  Our children
do not instinctively hunt, kill with their bare hands, and bring home little
animals to eat raw.
    In fact, most 'degenerative diseases' have been linked to consumption of
animal products.
    Yes, 'adaptation' of dozens of digestive/transport/assimilative
biochemical mechanisms, or the inability to do so, to non-natural dietary
items IS a real, and global, issue.

> _Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest_ documents extensive hunting of colubus
> monkeys by wild chimpanzees.
    Nothing personal, but I always find it interesting that people who make
this claim _never_ quantize it, thus implying it is somehow numerically
significant, and they also never present the rest of the observations that
clearly indicate that this activity in chimps is strictly social, not
nutritional, in origin and function.
    Some facts: Goodall reports the chimp diet as:

     Item         %

      Fruit       59
      Leaves     21
      Seeds        9
      Blossoms    5
      Flesh         1.5
      Insects     0.7
      Misc.        4

    Other researchers put flesh at ~1%.

    Further, the following social practices were observed:
    1>    Not all adults, or all members of one sex, hunted as we see in all
other natural carnivores/omnivores.  A small subset of males hunted.
    2>    Not all adults ate flesh.
    3>    Flesh is frequently given to the females in exchange for sexual
favors, much as it is in human dating; obviously, this is social, not
    4>    Different troops ate different amounts, which would not occur if
it were instinctual.
    Thus, the numerically insignificant 1-1.5% of the overall diet and the
dominating social aspects indicate that this practice is not nutritionally
necessary in the chimp.  Parenthetically, humans would get a lot healthier
if they reduced their consumption to this level, especially if it were raw,
as this would avoid the carcinogens and rogue pyrolytic molecules created by

> (The descriptions of hunting techniques, ...
    Could you please answer these questions with specifics and details?
    Did all adults hunt?
    Did all adults eat?
    Did all members of one sex hunt?
    Did all members of one sex eat?
    Did a small subset of only males hunt?
    Was flesh given to females for sex?
    Elaborate on the social aspects.
    Did different troops eat different amounts?

> Furthermore, I don't see any reason to suppose that dietary adaptation is
> slow.  Dairy farming peoples have a much higher level of lactose tolerance
    Higher?  Would not 100% 'tolerance' be the result if 'adaptation' had
actually occurred?  Further, such 'adaptation' can not be implied merely
because _immediate_ gross somatic effects are somewhat lower.
    The valid test would be to have these 'adapted' folk stop consuming
dairy and see if their health/energy improved.  If it did, no assumed
'adaptation' had taken place.  In fact, this is the only way to experience
if any such 'adaptation' had taken place with respect to any cultural
dietary item.
    Similarly, immediate gross somatic effects are not an indication of
long-term seriously deleterious effects; viz. colorectal cancer, kidney
disease, 'heart attacks', and 'strokes'.  These develop,
molecule-by-molecule, over long periods of time -- decades; lactose
intolerance is a short-term event immediate on consumption, caused by the
fact that we stop producing the necessary enzyme at an early age when we
should no longer be consuming human milk.

> It sounds like an ideologically motivated argument.
    Forget the mind-reading, and please deal with the biochemistry and the
genetic mechanisms by which dozens of biochemical pathways suddenly and in
concert come into being by stochastic processes.  What 'selective pressures'
would choose for this magical genetic concert?
    Actually, it was a question if any known genetic mechanisms exist that
would allow 'adaptation' to non-natural dietary items.
    None have been elucidated, although that I clearly recognize that to
respond meaningfully to these complex, interrelated issues would require
in-depth understanding of both biochemistry and evolution theory, and given
the specialization inherent in current 'educational' systems, finding a
simultaneous expert in both fields is extremely unlikely.
    Anyone with a PhD in both out there?

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